Taking a Hard Hat Tour of Frank Gehry's New World Symphony HQ
A few of the principals behind Miami's New World Symphony were sitting around discussing their dream of building a combination campus/concert hall that would be large enough to handle an ever-increasing crop of talent and bold enough to wow the world.
At one point someone mentioned that an architect would eventually have to be selected. To which NWS Artistic Director and Founder Michael Tilson Thomas replied:
"I'm acquainted with Frank Gehry, should we call him?"
New World Symphony's new campus performance space
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called. Turns out the Maestro not only was acquainted with the builder
of Bilbao, he grew up in the neighborhood where Gehry got his start,
and in his more formative years the budding classicist would visit the
future starchitect every chance he could get. So the call was made. And
the next day a small group of NWS emissaries were on a plane to L.A.
The rest, as everybody hopes, will go down in history.
quick paraphrase of the tale delivered by New World Symphony CEO Howard
Herring as he wrapped-up a hard-hat tour of Gehry's
soon-to-be-completed NWS HQ. And it was there and then, standing in
what will become the roof-top garden as the sun set over our shoulders,
where we got to fully feel what it's like to have one's proverbial
dreams come true.
In fact, the dream-fulfilling factor was
evident throughout the entire whirlwind tour. Then again, when you've
got the immense enthusiasm of a gentleman like Herring leading the way,
it would be kinda difficult to see the site in any other way.
that you'd want to do so, mind you; nor that you could. Because just
stepping on to the grounds of this milestone edifice has the potential
to restore your faith in the future.
And oh what a future does
this grand building promise. From the 7,000-square-foot exterior
projection wall which will face its adjacent 2½ acre park, through the
digital nooks and high-speed crannies of the 100,641-square-foot
edifice itself, this campus/concert hall is tailor-made to take
classical music into the 21st century and beyond.
Of course it
will do so by both providing some of the most robust concert
programming ever concocted and "preparing young graduates for
leadership roles." Just as importantly though, everything about this
forward-facing enterprise is designed to welcome the world into its
midst, a world that most likely has yet to experience the pleasures of
Bach or Beethoven, let alone Adams or Ives.
To achieve that,
according to Hemming, NWS will continue its highly successful $2.50
Mini Concerts, as well as a series of hour-long programs which will
offer a brief yet vivid history with each piece that's performed. And
it is hoped that those more introductory efforts will result in
creating a whole new class of classical music fans.
As will its
scale, which is divided into humanely harmonious sections. Hemming says
NWS and Gehry purposely kept everything intimate. The performance hall
is set at 757 in-the-round seats, and, with four satellite platforms
surrounding a main stage capable of fourteen different configurations,
is itself incredibly flexible. Add a 2400-square-foor pavilion,
1200+-square-foot music library, two 100-some-odd capacity
multi-purpose rooms capable of hosting everything from lectures to
screenings, and a bevy of rehearsal spaces and technical suites, and
you've got a hive fit for a legion.
To further wow the crowds,
the entire structure is set-up for a diverse array of visuals. From the
inner sails which wave across both the pavilion and the performance
hall, to the aforementioned exterior projection wall, which is large
enough to be seen clearly from the hotel roofs that dot Collins Avenue,
high def and possibly 3-D views of the past, present and future will be
made available to all.
Tilson Thomas calls the new space "a
music meeting house," which nicely sums up the big idea behind this
multi-faceted Miami Beach milestone. And on January 25, 2011, when New
World Symphony officially opens the doors of its sweeping new
headquarters, you'll be able to see, hear and feel just what he means.
Long live the classicists.
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